Balzan and Valletta had a winning start as they defeated Naxxar Lions 2-0 and Mosta 1-0 respectively in the two matches at the Centenary Stadium on Saturday.
In the first match, a goal just before half-time and another early in the second half gave Marco Micovic’s side a 2-0 win over newly-promoted Naxxar Lions.
Jacob Borg was making his debut for Balzan while Uros Ljubomirac, Alex da Paixao Alves and Michael Johnson made their league debut after starring in the UEFA Europa League qualifiers. Naxxar, on the other hand, had Manolito Micallef, Francesco Serafino, Marco Botta, Ameth Lo and substitute Tristan Nappa Licari making their debut while Daren Falzon made his return after spending last season on loan with Hamrun Spartans and Pembroke Athleta.
Photos: Copyright © Andrew Grima
Balzan took the lead three minutes from the end of the first half when off a corner by Ryan Fenech, Bruno Giglio de Oliveira headed the ball into the direction of Bojan Kaljevic who slammed the ball past Omar Borg.
They doubled the score on the 58th minute thanks to Uros Ljubomirac who hit home after a fine Alfred Effiong effort hit the foot of the upright.
Late in the game, Bojan Kaljevic was unlucky to hit the crossbar with a freekick.
[gallery_bank type=”images” format=”masonry” title=”true” desc=”false” responsive=”true” display=”all” sort_by=”random” animation_effect=”bounce” album_title=”true” album_id=”62″] [gallery_bank type=”images” format=”masonry” title=”true” desc=”false” responsive=”true” display=”all” sort_by=”random” animation_effect=”bounce” album_title=”true” album_id=”63″]
BALZAN Ivan Janjusevic, Ryan Fenech, Steve Bezzina, Alex da Paixao Alves, Paul Fenech, Bojan Kaljevic, Uros Ljubomirac (84′ Jamie Zerafa), Alfred Effiong (64′ Lydon Micallef), Jacob Borg, Bruno Giglio de Oliveira (50′ Elkin Serrano Valero), Michael Johnson.
Subs not used: Sean Mintoff, Dylan Grima, Milos Lepovic, Samir Arab.
Coach: Marko Micovic
NAXXAR Omar Borg, Angus Buhagiar, Daren Falzon, Francesco Serafino (87′ Gianluca Grima), Manolito Micallef, Duane Bonnici, Marco Botta, Mark Fenech, Ryan Gilmour Cassar, Joel Ellul (75′ Tristan Nappa Licari), Ameth Lo.
Subs not used: Jake Bezzina, Adam Pace, Connor Azzopardi, Luke Bezzina, Jurgen Debono.
Coach: Dennis Fenech
Referees: Clayton Pisani
Assistant Referees: Alan Camilleri, Mitchell Scerri Fourth Official: Philip Farrugia
Yellow Cards: Kaljevic, M. Fenech
BOV Player of the Match: Uros Ljubomirac
In the second game, a Claudio Pani penalty just before half-time gave Valletta a narrow win over Mosta.
Apart from Henry Bonello who were making his first league appearance, Valletta had Raed Ibrahim Saleh, Denni Rocha dos Santos and Nikola Asceric making their debut. Mosta, on the other hand, had Thomas Veronese, Semen Datsenko, David Ifeanyi Nworah, Cristian Fernandez, Edison Bilbao Zarate and substitute Emmaneul Oladejo all making their debut.
Valletta scored the all-important goal just before half-time when Nikola Asceric was brought down inside the area by Semen Datsenko an from the penalty spot, Claudio Pani made no mistake.
However Pani was sent off thirteen minutes from time after receiving a second yellow card.
VALLETTA Henry Bonello, Steve Borg, Jean Borg, Juan Cruz Gill, Claudio Pani, Romeu Pericles Romao, Raed Ibrahim Saleh, Denni Rocha dos Santos (59′ Kyrian Nwoko), Santiago Malano, Michael Mifsud (80′ Nicholas Pulis), Nikola Asceric.
Subs not used: Nicky Vella, Russell Fenech, Jeremy Micallef, Shawn Dimech, Leonard Farrugia.
Coach: Zoran Popovic
MOSTA Andreas Vella, Thomas Veronese, Dexter Xuereb, Semen Datsenko (80′ Emmanuel Oladejo), Tyrone Farrugia, Jonas Rodrigues Ekani, Kurt Magro (63′ David Fenech), David Ifeanyi Nworah, Edison Bilbao Zarate (76′ Kyle Frendo), Zachary Brincat, Cristian Jorge Martins Fernandez.
Subs not used: Andy Attard, Neil Frendo, Kyle Gatt, Jurgen Grech.
Coach: Johann Scicluna
Referee: Stefan Pace
Assistant Referees: Roberto Vella, Martin Borg
Fourth Official: Glenn Tonna
Yellow Cards: Pani, Datsenko, Cristian Fernandez, Asceric
Red Cards: 77′ Claudio Pani
BOV Player of the Match: Michael Mifsud